Fifth of inmates await help for addiction problems

Greenock Prison: 47 inmates on a waiting list for treatment. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Greenock Prison: 47 inmates on a waiting list for treatment. Picture: Donald MacLeod

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AN INSPECTION of one of Scotland’s jails has found a “lack of an overall strategy” in dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.

The report on HMP Greenock, which is published today, discovered NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde does not have a plan for guiding the treatment of inmates with drink and substance abuse problems.

David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland, said there were 47 inmates on the waiting list for a drug and alcohol treatment service, a programme which had not had a waiting list in the past.

Overall, the prison received a favourable report, with inspectors noting “respectful interactions” between inmates and staff and a “generally safe” atmosphere.

At the time of the inspection, there were 242 inmates in the 249-capacity prison.

Inspectors said there had been 35 violent incidents in 2013, including nine staff assaults, 15 prisoner assaults and 11 prisoner fights.

The report noted dampness in a number of cells and highlighted that separation cells at the prison were used “sparingly”.

But there was a “lack of an overall strategy” within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to guide the provision of addictions services at HMP Greenock.

The report noted: “Evidence of joint working was observed, including meetings between addictions nurses and addictions support workers to discuss how they are supporting prisoners, however this could be improved.

“There appeared to be limited joint assessments undertaken. There were also opportunities for addictions nurses and an alcohol liaison nurse to be involved with some of the therapeutic programmes that were delivered, for example the recovery cafe or alcohol groups.

“There is a lack of an overall strategy within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to guide the provision of addictions services and to guide the working relationship between enhanced addiction casework service and other addictions services within the prison. Staff were unable to identify the strategic lead for addictions services in the prison from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.”

Figures released last year showed the number of drugs found in Scotland’s prisons had reached a ten-year high, with nearly 2,000 illegal substances seized from inmates in 2012.

An average of five prisoners every day were caught with illegal drugs in 2012 – a 14 per cent rise on the 2011 figures, and a jump of 89 per cent since 2002.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “In June 2013, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde took over the enhanced addiction casework service in HMP Greenock.

“Since that time we have been working to develop a new model for addictions services. This new model will incorporate the service provided by [charity] Phoenix Futures and the service provided by our own clinical staff which will enhance the service for prisoners. ”

A SPS spokesman said: “There are a number of recommendations in the report, some of which have already been acted upon.

“The issue of damp, for example, has already been addressed. We accept the recommendations and it is gratifying to know that a number of areas of good practice have been identified.”

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